Last weekend a local grocery store had a special on Hatch Chilies. Those are New Mexico chilies that are traditionally fire roasted in Hatch, New Mexico in large, round, rotating, propane-fueled roasters.
The store brought in 1500 lbs of New Mexico chilies. They are an Anaheim variety, long and green, of varying heat levels. There was a roaster set up outside the store. Roasting was scheduled from 4 pm to 7 pm on Friday, and 11-2 on Saturday. Husband and I were serendipitously at the store at 3:30 on Friday, and we bought about 10 lbs of mild/medium chilies to have roasted. The skins get charred in the roaster but the pepper flesh isn’t. After they cooled and steamed in plastic bags we took the skins off and froze them in baggies. They will make nice additions to lots of dishes this winter.
The response to the promotion was amazing. Perhaps events like this are common in the Cities, but this was the first of its kind here, and people went crazy for the chilies. As we were having ours roasted, a woman from Watford City, a community about 80 miles northwest of us, came with 200 lbs of chilies to roast. She said the grocery store’s sister city in Watford was rationing how much she could get, but she could purchase as much here as she wanted. She figured 200 lbs would be enough for her and her friends. She said she used to live in New Mexico and couldn’t believe that she could have roasted Hatch chilies here. We talked to several former New Mexicans while we stood in line, and all said the same thing. They said that nothing reminded them of autumn than the smell of roasting chilies. They were so grateful to get these peppers.
By 7:00 pm, the store had sold 1400 lbs of the chilies, leaving a paltry 100 lbs for the next day. The store plans to get another shipment of Hatch chilies in for next weekend.
What smells are evocative for you? What gives you a sense of home?